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Resort Condominium International (RCI)

Resort Condominium International (RCI)

The mechanics of timeshare exchange

Sometimes timeshare owners will say "Oh, yeah. I own with RCI.” What they usually mean is that they own a week (or more) at a private resort that is affiliated with RCI for exchange purposes. In order to be a member of an exchange network such as RCI, you must own a timeshare or vacation ownership package that is affiliated with RCI.

RCI was the first of its kind to be established as a timeshare exchange network in early 1970s and has become the world leader in global timeshare exchange giving access to over 4,500 resorts in more than 100 countries. Because RCI has remained the world’s leader in timeshare exchange with a member base of nearly 4 million members, we mostly based our overview of how timeshare exchange works on RCI trading guidelines. Moreover, we will be taking a quick look at how it has evolved over the years in continuing to bring more flexibility to timeshare products by implementing a point-based exchange system, thus becoming the world’s largest point-based travel club.

For most timeshare owners, RCI is an exchange network to trade in their occupancy time or interval for another destination around the world, while, for others, RCI is a great pool of last minute destinations that offers great savings.

If you are considering buying a timeshare to use basically for trading to other destinations around the world, we would recommend that you take into consideration the Trading Power of your timeshare week.

The Trading Power of Timeshare Weeks

Most resorts in the timeshare industry are affiliated with an exchange network to allow their owners the alternative of exchanging their week to another property instead of returning to the same place, same time year after year.

What that means to owners is by depositing their week in the pool of that particular exchange network, they may in return request another destination, at another time of the year, in another size of accommodation than what they own.

Let’s take a closer look to better understand how trading takes place in the traditional RCI timeshare week exchange system which may help you select an appropriate vacation ownership or interval in the resale market.

RCI Resort Classifications

Each resort in the RCI system receives a classification according to the facilities they offer, the onsite amenities they provide and the level of hospitality comfort you receive which will place them into categories such as: from the highest level, as a Gold Crown Resort, followed by a Silver Crown rating; then, as Resorts of International Distinction, and lastly, Resorts of Standard Accommodation. Sometimes, resorts may be upgraded or downgraded according to the members’ commentary reviews and/or amenities they have added or lost onto their resorts.

In terms of exchange, your trade will respect the level of classification trading down from what you own, i.e. if you own gold crown resort, you will be able to trade to all other resorts in the system... however, if you own a standard accommodation, your access will be more restricted to the lower level standard in the network, and, by the same token, you may experience some difficulties trading in what you own.

Size of your timeshare Unit

The sizes of accommodation in timeshare resorts vary from studios (basically a hotel suite with mini-kitchen facilities, for 2 to 4 people) to up to 1, 2 or 3 bedroom condos with full kitchen facilities, accommodating up to 10-12 people. The same trading principle applies here too. If you own a 2 bedroom, you will be able to access 2 bedroom accommodation or smaller unit sizes. However, at times of low demand, you may be able to access a larger accommodation to trade in your studio, for example. Even though, not a written rules... RCI agents are kind enough to trade up the size of accommodation to first come, first served members when availability is plentiful.

Traveling Seasons

Another factor to consider is the travelling season, i.e. from high demand to low demand traveling seasons of the region where your resort is located, will also affect your trading power. If you own a week in high season (in RCI network, high season is qualified as red, then white and blue as the lowest season) you will be able to request within this ‘red time’ period, taking into consideration the above points regarding your resort and the size of your unit. Amazingly, however, we have seen more than once that for some owners of a ‘blue time’ studio in standard accommodation, the RCI trading system has really privileged them since they usually travel in low seasons when availability is greater.

The above unwritten rule seems to work marvels for them and they often end up in gold crown resorts, in red time (Florida is red time all year round) in a beautiful 2 bedroom condo...and only pay low yearly or biennially maintenance fees. Well done!

Deposit time

Another important factor that would affect your timeshare trading power is how early you deposit your week in the system: the sooner, the better. Basically, if you intend to trade your week for a high demand destination resort in high season, you want to be amongst the few ones to trade in as high demand usually means lower availability.

Trading may be more difficult in high season, basically because there is little availability in return as most owners tend to enjoy the benefits of their occupancy time and, as a result, very few weeks are being deposited. Therefore, if you deposit your high power week too late in the season, chances are, someone with a lower quality trading week may get it simply because his week was available for trading before yours.

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